Length: c. 4 minutes
Orchestration: 2 flutes (both = piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 4 horns, 2 trumpet, percussion (glockenspiel, crotales, suspended cymbal, vibraphone), piano, harp, and strings
First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: March 31, 2001, Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducting
Tromba lontana (distant trumpet) was written at the request of the Houston Symphony, part of a fanfare commissioning project initiated by the composer Tobias Picker, who wrote his own well-known Old and Lost Rivers for the same series. Taking a subversive point of view on the idea of the generic loud, extrovert archetype of the fanfare, I composed a four-minute work that barely rises above mezzo-piano and that features two stereophonically placed solo trumpets (to the back of the stage or on separate balconies), who intone gently insistent calls, each marked by a sustained note followed by a soft staccato tattoo. The orchestra provides a pulsing continuum of serene ticking in the pianos, harps and percussion. In the furthest background is a long, almost disembodied melody for strings that passes by almost unnoticed like nocturnal clouds.
Although Tromba lontana was published by Boosey & Hawkes in a grouping called “2 Fanfares for Orchestra,” I never intended the piece to be paired with Short Ride in a Fast Machine. They are united only in the fact that they are orchestral fanfares, but in fact it is difficult to make [them] work in a satisfying manner in live concert. I myself have never programmed them together. [Short Ride in a Fast Machine will be performed here October 20 and 21 by Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.]